US committed to helping Việt Nam realise its COP26 goals: Ambassador

May, 10/2022 - 10:57

The US is a solid, and committed partner to helping Việt Nam realise its ambitious COP26 goals, US Ambassador to Việt Nam Marc E.Knapper said in an exclusive interview granted to Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reporters ahead of Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chinh’s trip to the US.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc E. Knapper in a meeting in Hà Nội. VNA file photo

The US is a solid, and committed partner to helping Việt Nam realise its ambitious COP26 goals, US Ambassador to Việt Nam Marc E. Knapper told Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reporters in an exclusive interview ahead of Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính’s trip to the US.

PM Chính and other ASEAN leaders will attend a special ASEAN-US summit marking the 45th founding anniversary of the relations between the two sides in Washington D.C. on May 12-13, at the invitation of US President Joe Biden Jr. A delegation of Việt Nam led by PM Chính will visit the US and the United Nations from May 11 to 17, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The relationship between Việt Nam and the US has made great strides forward in the 27 years since diplomatic relations were established. In that context, what is the significance of PM Chính’s visit to the US and what opportunities will the visit bring?

Our partnership is strong, and the breadth and depth of cooperation between our two great countries is making our partnership even stronger. In areas as diverse as trade, development, education, health care, energy, and security, the US and a strong and independent Việt Nam are working together with a shared commitment to peace and prosperity.  And, we are a solid, and committed partner to helping Việt Nam realise its ambitious COP26 goals.

We are pleased Prime Minister Chính is coming to the US for the US-ASEAN Special Summit and welcome him and his delegation for meetings across the US government, business, and academia. The momentum of our bilateral relationship has been furthered by the frequent exchange of several leader-level visits which include: General Secretary of the Communist Party of Việt Nam Nguyễn Phú Trọng’s visit to the White House in 2015; US President Obama’s visit to Việt Nam in 2016; Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s visit to Washington, D.C. in 2017; US President Trump’s visits to Hà Nội in 2017 and 2019; and US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Hà Nội last year.

His delegation’s busy schedule for this visit represents the importance to both countries of the US-Vietnam relationship, including in the health, education, security and defence, trade, and development sectors. We are very excited that he will meet not only with leadership of our government, but also private sector partners who are leading the way in innovation, digital transformation, and to create greener products.

During his visit, Prime Minister Chính will attend the ASEAN-US Special Summit on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of relations.  How do you evaluate the ASEAN-US partnership over that time and what are the prospects for cooperation in the future?  How do you view Việt Nam’s role in ASEAN-US relations?

Through the historic US-ASEAN Special Summit - the first ever to be hosted in Washington - we are also showing the importance of ASEAN to the United States. We seek a strong and independent ASEAN that leads in Southeast Asia.  We endorse ASEAN centrality and support ASEAN in its efforts to deliver sustainable solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges.

To that end, we will deepen our long-standing cooperation with ASEAN while launching new high-level engagements on health, climate and environment, energy, transportation, and gender equity and equality. The United States remains the number-one investment partner in ASEAN member countries - investing more than Southeast Asia’s next three investment partners combined.

Việt Nam is a major player on the world stage, as evidenced by its successful two-year term on the UN Security Council that just ended.  We work with Việt Nam on a host of issues related to our shared goals of regional and global peace and prosperity.  Our support for Việt Nam’s deployments to UN peacekeeping missions is one area that especially comes to mind.  We are proud of our work with the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre to help provide equipment, training, and exchange expertise with Vietnamese peacekeepers.

We are also a proud partner of Việt Nam within ASEAN.  The US welcomes a strong and independent ASEAN that leads in Southeast Asia. We endorse ASEAN centrality and support ASEAN in its efforts to deliver sustainable solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges. To that end, we will deepen long-standing cooperation with ASEAN while launching new high-level engagements on health, climate and environment, energy, transportation, and gender equity and equality. We will work with ASEAN to build its resilience as a leading regional institution.

The US is working closely with Việt Nam as we develop our vision of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which seeks to advance resilience, inclusiveness, and competitiveness for our economies. Through this initiative, we aim to contribute to cooperation, peace, stability, prosperity, and sustainable development of the region. We also hope to learn from Việt Nam’s previous experience as the US hosts APEC in 2023.

With a special relationship that has overcome the differences of the past, the two countries have endeavoured to boost relations for further development. What are your expectations of future relations?

The US-Việt Nam partnership has never been better and, as the Prime Minister has said, Việt Nam has never enjoyed higher international prestige. Our two countries have moved from a history of conflict and division to a Comprehensive Partnership that spans political, security, economic, and people-to-people ties, as well as efforts to address the legacies of war. It is a partnership that is strengthening each day, and we sincerely hope to upgrade it to a Strategic Partnership. We believe that “strategic” more accurately describes the work we are already doing together. Our Indo-Pacific Strategy and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework make clear that this partnership and Việt Nam are central to our engagement in this vital region.

With respect to economic and business relations, this is an important moment for the US and Việt Nam, and the trade relationship between our two countries is one of our most consequential ones. Despite COVID-19, US-Vietnam bilateral trade hit nearly US$113 billion in 2021, a 26 per cent increase over 2020. US and Vietnamese companies have invested, and continue to invest, billions of dollars with each other in critical sectors that impact people’s lives, such as healthcare, energy, technology, and infrastructure.

We have been a strong partner for Việt Nam throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to work together to lay the foundations for Việt Nam’s economic recovery. We have provided nearly 40 million doses of vaccine, and our companies have facilitated procurements of thousands of new ventilators. We are very proud of these efforts to save lives not just in cities, but in far-reaching rural towns and provinces. And while we have witnessed the pandemic disrupt global supply chains and shipping, causing difficulties for many of our companies and both our economies, our partnership helps to guide us through pandemic recovery efforts to better days ahead.

As we heard from Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry during his February visit to Việt Nam, the 2020s will be the decade for climate action, and no region of the world has a more pivotal role in realising the global goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 than the economies of the East Asia Pacific region. We see tremendous opportunities for the role of the private sector – both US and Vietnamese businesses – to support climate action through innovation and investments. The US is your steadfast partner in these efforts, which will continue for not years, but for decades to come.

Another promising area for bilateral cooperation is the digital economy, which is increasingly a key area for economic growth. Over the past two years e-commerce, virtual meetings, and digital payments have kept our economies afloat during an unprecedented global pandemic. The digital economy accounted for an estimated 5 per cent of Việt Nam’s GDP in 2020, and the “National Digital Transformation Program” has set a goal to increase this share to 30 per cent of GDP by 2030. The US wants to see Việt Nam take its place as a leader in the digital economy, but it’s important to get the underlying structures right. We have had many productive conversations on this topic and are happy to continue to share our experiences with balancing the opportunity for growth and innovation with the need for privacy and security.

As we look to the year ahead, I see tremendous opportunities for us to deepen and expand collaboration between the US Mission, the Government of Việt Nam, and our respective private sectors to support our mutual goals in Việt Nam: rebuilding global supply chains; accelerating the country’s clean energy transition and sustainable growth; developing the digital economy in line with global best practices, and bringing world-class US products and services to Việt Nam to support its economic development. — VNS

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